Healthy Eating Active Living
Denver Public Health is committed to improving the health of everyone, including those that suffer disproportionately from obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases associated with the lack of healthy eating and active living opportunities. The healthy eating and active living (HEAL) team practices this by focusing on the built environment, policy and systems that have a strong influence on health and obesity prevention.
Obesity in Denver, among both children and adults, is a major public health concern. Childhood obesity often leads to adult obesity, which is linked to chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and stroke.
During the 2016/2017 school year, 30% of Denver's school-aged children (kindergarten - 9th grade) were either overweight or obese, and the percentage of obese adults in Denver more than doubled in the last two decades. Learn more about childhood obesity in Denver.
Through two signature programs, the Healthy Beverage Partnership and the Denver Community Active Living Coalition, the HEAL team at Denver Public Health strives to promote healthy behaviors and prevent chronic disease in Denver communities by:
- Reducing sugary drink consumption.
- Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.
- Increasing physical activity.
- Sugar-sweetened beverages are the leading contributor to childhood obesity
- Scientific studies show that sugar-sweetened beverages promote weight gain and are the primary sources of added sugar and calories in children’s diets.
- One in four of Denver’s children drink at least one soda every day.
- Drinking one sugar-sweetened beverage per day increases a child’s odds of becoming obese by 60%.
- For the first time in history, we are treating children with diseases previously seen only in adults, such as adult-onset diabetes and early heart disease.
- Research shows that many parents are not aware of these dangers, and would make different choices about their children’s drinks if they did. There are warning labels on cigarettes and alcohol for this reason; consumers must have the facts at point-of-sale to make informed choices for their families.
- Studies have shown that beverage companies disproportionately market their sugary drinks to low-income communities that are already hardest hit by health disparities and have the highest rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The consumption of SSBs is increasing rampant inequities, speeding our most vulnerable children toward poor health and shortened life spans.
- In Denver, one in three school-aged children are overweight or obese.
- Denver residents prioritized increasing the number of children at a healthy weight in its Community Health Improvement Plan. It is also a 2020 Denver Sustainability goal.
- Denver Public Health serves to promote, improve and protect the health and well-being of the residents of Denver. We work to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity and raise awareness of the dangers of sugary drinks.
- By advocating for the health and well-being of our community and patients, we are driven by the rules of science and grounded in the principles of social justice.
- Children, their parents and caregivers deserve to know the facts about threats to their health.
- We cannot wait until another generation grows up with poor health and preventable disease.
The Healthy Beverage Partnership is a regional effort aimed at reducing the risk of childhood obesity across even counties in the Denver metropolitan area. In addition to facilitating local coalitions that conduct beverage and food assessments at community venues, the partnership also collaborated to launch an educational campaign that seeks to educate parents about high sugar content in juice-flavored drinks and soda. The Healthy Beverage Partnership has developed several toolkits to help partners join in supporting these efforts:
- Hidden Sugar Campaign Toolkit
- Documents to help partners share the campaign message(s).
- Healthy Beverage and Food Policy and Practice Toolkit
- Documents to support your healthy meeting, vending and/or concessions policy adoption.
Denver Public Health, based on unbiased, evidence-based research, declares a warning, supported by doctors and scientists, to the residents of Denver: sugary drinks can lead to tooth decay, type II diabetes, obesity, and other preventable illnesses.
To address this health issue in Denver, Denver Public Health is working to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks through policy, partnerships, systems and environmental changes, as well as through public information educational campaigns.
Read more below to understand the problem, our position and steps we are taking to turn the tide on childhood obesity in Denver.
Are you interested in improving student’s access to water throughout the school day?
Schools play a vital role in the health of children. Access to safe and free drinking water provides kids a healthy alternative to sugary drinks such as juice, flavored milks, sports drinks and sodas. Our team is ready to help you take action to improve the health of your students using the Water Activation Toolkit!
Denver Public Health is offering Technical Assistance (TA) to schools/school districts that are interested and can assist with:
- District, staff, and administration education on the benefits of water access.
- Sample water access policy language and implementation tools.
- Water activation and access resources (e.g. water filling stations).
- Training on implementing the Water Activation Toolkit at your school.
For more information about the toolkit, technical assistance or to register for a training contact Erin.Slay@dhha.org or fill out the technical assistance request form.
Learn more about our youth health efforts.